Cristiano Ronaldo’s refusal to come on as a substitute against Tottenham can be put down to him being the kind of player who “can’t accept being left out”, says former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes.
Ronaldo was temporarily exiled from first-team activities by Ten Hag after refusing to enter the fray in United’s 2-0 win over Spurs, before making a goalscoring return in Thursday’s 3-0 Europa League victory over Sheriff.
The 37-year-old top-scored for United with 24 goals in all competitions last season, but has only made two Premier League starts since Ten Hag took charge.
Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra have defended former team-mate Ronaldo since the incident, and Scholes has now joined them, saying he understands the striker’s frustration with his new back-up role.
“The longer the game goes on, the more upset you get, the red mist comes over you,” Scholes told BT Sport.
“You’re not thinking properly. For him [Ten Hag] to ask him to come on with two minutes to go, he will think: ‘Is he taking the mickey out of me?’
“He thinks he should be playing every single game, and some players just can’t accept being left out. The longer that game went on, the more and more furious he got.
“I think the manager has to show a bit of common sense. You’re looking back at an experienced player, and you’re asking them to come on in a game that’s won.
“I’ve heard a lot of people say Sir Alex would have gone crazy or mad, but I don’t think he would have done that. With two minutes to go, you bring a young kid on or give someone his debut.
“I think it’s disrespectful towards Cristiano, but it’s difficult to say it’s disrespectful because it’s the manager’s job, and he’s got every right to ask him to come on.
“It’s clear Cristiano isn’t in his plans. He doesn’t see him as part of his team in the big games in the league, the big European games later in the competition, he sees him more as a substitute.”
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Scholes was speaking from experience, having refused to play for United in an EFL Cup tie against Arsenal back in 2001, and he sympathises with Ronaldo despite his mistake.
“It’s difficult to explain your emotions at the time,” Scholes added. “It was a low point of my career, something I look back on and really regret – it was so wrong to do.
“I sympathise with Cristiano. He did the wrong thing but your head completely goes.
“That’s what probably happened with Cristiano, he’s had a similar way of thinking where he’s been left out of a game, so he will be raging.
“He’s still not come on and he will be thinking, ‘I can come on, score three or four goals against this team, easily’.”